Happy New Year! I took quite a hiatus from blogging. Good grief. The good news is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In 6 weeks, I will have no choice but to be done with my graduate applications. I cannot wait.
A couple months ago, Dave and I picked up our winter box from Harlequin Produce, a friend's farm located a bit north of Missoula. We received 100 pounds of organic food for $50, plus a full day of farm work (thanks to Dave). It was a screamin' deal. The assortment of produce consisted of mostly storable items, with plenty of squash and onions to last us through the winter. We enjoyed the process of figuring out how to manage our load of produce with such a small apartment and little storage. We ended up roasting most of our perishable goods, including peppers and tomatoes, intending to freeze them and eat them in the coming months. We also received about 20 pounds of carrots which were almost all eventually used to make this delicious soup.
The carrots we received were on the bitter side, and there's no better way to bring the sugars out than by slow roasting. Once the carrots have been roasted, you can go in many different directions with a soup. My friend Brad made a similar curried soup last summer when we fell upon a large load of carrots. I loved it and wanted to try to make my own version this season. The soup ends up being healthy, yet incredibly satisfying.
The beauty of this type of recipe is that while the vegetables are roasting, a quick stock can be made from the leftover vegetable scraps. There is nothing more peaceful than having a pot of water on the stove with veggie scraps, slowly simmering into a sweet broth while a pan of aromatic vegetables roasts in the oven. After the initial 10 minutes of food preparation, you can sit and relax while your produce takes care of itself. I learned of this method of casual, yet resourceful cooking from a wonderful book called An Everlasting Meal. I strongly recommend the book for someone who is feeling a bit lackluster about his or her cooking.
Garam masala is not the most common spice blend found in the pantry. However, if you don't have any, it can easily be put together using this recipe.
**Make sure to save your carrot, onion, and garlic scraps. These scraps will be used to make the quick stock.
Curried Carrot Soup
makes about 8 cups of soup
1 1/2 lbs medium carrots, quartered
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
a pinch or two of cayenne
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp turmeric
6 cups of quick stock or vegetable broth
salt and pepper
about 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (lemon juice will also work)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread carrots and onion pieces onto a large cookie sheet. Drizzle with plenty of oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until carrots are thoroughly wrinkled and onions are brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat a tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add smashed garlic cloves and cumin seed. Stir until cumin is fragrant and garlic is beginning to soften. Add remaining spices and stock. Stir to combine. Add roasted carrots, onion, and roasting juices to the soup pot. Remove pot from heat.
Using an immersion blender puree soup until smooth. If using a blender, let soup cool slightly and then blend in batches. Once blended smooth, throw soup back into the pot. Return to stove and heat on medium. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust spices if needed. Add cider vinegar to balance the flavors. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve with warm flatbread.
The simplest stock can be made with just water and vegetable scraps. Anything else you throw in will just enhance the flavor.
vegetable scraps (carrot ends, onion ends, onion skins, garlic skins, etc)
6 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 or 3 black peppercorns (optional)
Throw everything together in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn to medium-low and simmer for as long as you can, or up to 4 hours. Using a sieve, strain out vegetable scraps. If not using immediately, stock can be frozen for many months.